On Sunday evening, the host of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver, made the Emmys hashtag "DC Public Schools" go viral after requesting that people tweet the hashtag during his award acceptance speech for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series.
Last Week Tonight, Oliver's comedic political commentary show, actually won two awards at the 69th Annual Primetime Emmys: the aforementioned Outstanding Writing for A Variety Series as well as Outstanding Variety Talk Series.
Oliver's hashtag request came during his acceptance speech for the writing award, which he gave while flanked by his staff. Oliver first thanked his writers, then began his hashtag request by referencing an earlier moment in the evening — when Dave Chappelle gave a shout out to DC Public Schools while he was co-presenting the Emmy for Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series. Chappelle grew up in Washington, DC and attended the District's Duke Ellington School of the Arts.
Oliver used Chappelle's shout out a a launching point for his own request, imploring audiences to use the hashtag by stating,
Like Dave Chappelle, I would like to unexpectedly thank DC Public Schools, because I think it would be great if it started trending on Twitter for no reason tonight whatsoever ... If you’re tweeting about the Emmys at home, please use the hashtag #DCPublicSchools.
Oliver then comedically thanked Oprah (merely because she was sitting in the audience) and the rest of his staff, then requested to be played off, concluding his speech.
Those on Twitter truly took Oliver's request to heart, as, according to Vox, the "DC Public Schools" hashtag did indeed begin trending on Twitter. In fact, during the broadcast the hashtag ranked number two on Twitter's worldwide trending list, falling second only to the Emmys hashtag.
As Vox also noted, the near-immediate trending of the hashtag demonstrated the true power and popularity of Oliver and his show, Last Week Tonight. The fact that those on Twitter so readily responded to Oliver's request highlighted his impressive ability to quickly deliver his chosen message to thousands of people — something he does regularly on his show.
Twitter users also seemed to recognize and appreciate Oliver's ability to widely communicate a message. One user noted he was sharing the hashtag because he does "whatever John Oliver tells [him] to do" while another noted that if Oliver "wills it [the use of the hashtag], then it must be done."
For its part, DC Public Schools appeared thrilled with the Twitter mention and took it as an opportunity to educate others and express gratitude. The District of Columbia's Public Schools Twitter page tweeted several times throughout the broadcast, taking time to thank those who contribute to the schools' success. Indeed, one tweet from the organization's page noted, "What an unexpected honor! We'd like to thank our educators, our families, and of course, our amazing students." The page's most recent tweet also offered a link for other Twitter users to learn more about the District's schools.
Parents of DC Public Schools students also appeared elated to see their children's school district trending on Twitter. Many took to Twitter themselves to note how proud they were of their children and to tweet their full support for Oliver's hashtag initiative.
Overall, the rapid rate at which Twitter responded to Oliver's request to create a trending hashtag about DC Public Schools was quite impressive. And, moreover, the hashtag could have a lasting impact. The request not only brought a great deal of attention to the school district, but also may even help it acquire additional support. Indeed, a few users were sharing DC Public Schools' classroom supply request lists and encouraging others to donate, something which you can also do if you are so inclined.